Jackie is a First Nations painter and activist from Winnipeg, Canada. She started to paint while she was in prison and this changed her life. I met her 5 months ago and I was fascinated by her story and her incredible strength.
Back in the 60s and 70s, thousands of indigenous children living on reserves were taken from their families and brought to the city to be adopted or interned in boarding schools.
As a child, Jackie spent a lot of time in a boarding school, while her brother and two sisters were sent for adoption in other areas. After losing her mother, she found herself alone in the world. Without hope and support, she got into trouble and ended up in a women’s jail.
While in detention, she started to paint. This was the turning point in her life. Jackie’s paintings and birthday cards became very popular in prison, being bought by the other women. For the first time, her life had meaning. This gave her strength and hope to start a new path.
After being released, she took her portfolio to the University of Manitoba and was accepted to study fine arts. After years of hard work and studies, her paintings became more appreciated, and Jackie started to make a name for herself. But she didn’t forget about other First Nations women.
Hundreds of indigenous women have disappeared, committed suicide or been murdered in Winnipeg since Jackie was born. She wanted to raise awareness about that and make a change. That’s why First Nations women are the main theme of her painting and her activism.
Jackie has three daughters and one granddaughter, and she wants to create a safer world for them. “I didn’t have anybody to stick up for me when I was young,” she told me. “But my daughters and my granddaughter have me to stick up for them.”